Subject a lump of coal to sufficient pressure and heat, and it becomes a diamond. Okay, that’s a little simplistic, but really, a diamond is nothing more than carbon. It’s the hardest known mineral as measured by the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness, and will cut glass and just about anything else you use them on. They’re also very precious, and can be very expensive, depending on four factors: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. They are, as Marilyn Monroe sang, “a girl’s best friend,” and they are the birthstone of people born this month, such as Mary.
Certain diamonds, known as “blood diamonds,” are mined in war zones and sold to finance those wars or the warlords that sell them. Many come from Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and other African nations.
But, there are lots of other kinds of diamonds. A few of my classmates had a surname of Diamond, including two of my friends, both of whom were named Mark Diamond. And they were in a lot of classes together, which meant they had to find a way to distinguish each other. Finally, one of them went by “Mort,” and all was well. Other Diamonds include Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on “Good Morning, Miss Bliss,” which evolved into “Saved by the Bell,” of which he was also a star, and Selma Diamond, who played Selma Hacker, one of the bailiffs on TV’s “Night Court” during its first two seasons, who, sadly, died of lung cancer in 1985. She had an impressive resume, as both an actress and a writer, and was the inspiration for the character of Sally Rogers on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Clockwise from upper left: Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds (source: f l a n k e r, Wikimedia, released into public domain.)
Diamonds are a suit of playing cards as well, at least in the standard (French) 52-card deck we’re all familiar with. The King, Queen, and Jack of diamonds (called the “court cards”) represent Julius Caesar, Rachel (the wife of Jacob from the Bible), and Hector from Greek mythology. In contract bridge, Diamonds are the third-highest rank of the suits, behind Spades and Hearts but ahead of Clubs.
Baseball diamond (source: Wikimedia Commons)
And, of course, there are baseball diamonds. A baseball diamond is a square, 90 feet on each side. At each corner is a base, one of which is home plate, a pentagonal piece of hard rubber, at which the batter stands. Players score runs by making a full circuit of the bases (first, second, third, and home) before their team makes three outs. The pitcher stands on a hill in more or less the middle of the diamond, 60 feet and six inches from home plate, and throws the ball to the catcher, positioned behind home plate, trying to get the batter, standing in a box next to home plate, to swing and miss at the ball, or to hit it to one of the fielders… yes, it’s a complicated game and I’m just making it worse.
So, as you can see, there are all kinds of diamonds out there…